Friday, January 14, 2011

14 Pews: H-Town’s New HQ for Movie Love?

There were two great things about the Angelica: it was downtown and it showed lots of movies you couldn’t see anywhere else. Those virtues made up for for the fact that it was a rundown, soulless, corporate hulk. Now that a real independent movie house has opened inside the loop, what's to miss? It's called 14 Pews and it's in the old chapel where the Aurora Picture Show used to be (800 Aurora, just south of 610 and east of North Main). The Heights transit center is just a couple of blocks away so, like the Angelica before it, 14 Pews is easily accessible to Metro riding movie lovers like me. Nice. And best of all, 14 Pews has the cool movies nobody else in town is showing. I saw Marwencol (q.v.) there last week and am looking forward to several coming attractions, including this weekend's feature, Quinceañera, (But most of all I'm looking forward to The Battle of Chile, a documentary of resistance made during the CIA-backed putsch of 1973.)
14 Pews is the brainchild of owner, proprietor, and filmmaker Cressandra Thibodeaux. She was generous enough to spare some time and answer a few questions about her set up over there. Check out the interview, and definitely check out her website,, to see what’s coming up.
Cinnamon Oats: How do you choose which films to show at 14 Pews? Do you have any particular interests or enthusiasms that might be reflected in your programming?
Cressandra Thibodeuax: Films come to me in many ways -- Viva the Nam was recommended by a friend of mine, Lee Daniel, who shot Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and many others. I don't care for horror films or violent films. I don't like over sexualized teenage girl films, nor do I like any films where women get smacked around like in older Japanese or Italian films. I'm into social issues, coming of age films and documentaries.
CO: Your recent "It Gets Better" film festival honored Asher Brown of Cypress who, at the age of 13, was driven to suicide by bullying at school. How was the festival received? When is the next film festival, and what can we look forward to seeing there?
CT: The "It Gets Better" Film Festival was mentioned in the NY Times and Texas Monthly as the place to be over Thanksgiving weekend, so it was well received by the press. I'm trying to get help on programming the other film festivals. It's a very organic process.
CO: Your website has a page on the History of 800 Aurora Street which makes your arrival in Houston and acquisition of the space seems almost providential. Did you know anyone at Aurora before you came here? How do you see the future of 14 Pews?
CT: I knew Carlos Lama from a long time ago. He was dating a friend of mine. I think it was 1991, but I didn't keep up with him. He and Andrea Grover owned the house. The future of 14 Pews will be affected by the films I can book and also the amazing live performances. I'm thinking of getting more live performances going on. Emily Sloan is now our artist in residence and I'm excited to see where that takes us.
CO: Please tell us about your monthly workshops. Is each workshop basically the same or does the focus change each time?
CT: In June, I'll be starting a weekly screening series called "Women in Film" which will be a class about women's roles in films through the decades.
CO: Does 14 Pews have a membership program?
CT: We have membership as low as $50 for a full year of screenings and events.
CO: Sounds great. Thank you for your time, Cressandra. I wish you the very best with 14 Pews and I'm sure I'll see you over there at a screening pretty soon.
CT: Thanks so much.

1 comment: